Everyone has bad days with children, days when we don’t handle situations well, days when we want to scream and run out the door. It is normal to a certain extent to feel this way. Parenting is the hardest job in the world at times, and the most unrecognised and unsupported. When doing it on your own it can be even more difficult as you don’t have someone who can take over when you feel you need a break.
The lead up to Christmas can pile on additional stress. Our heads can be full of so many issues that when the children start to act up, it can be the final straw. Usually the children are more challenging because they know and feel that you are not present for them. They have needs which are not being met and they don’t know how to tell you about how they feel. All they know is how to act it out.
It is important to put measures in place to help you recognise when you are starting to neglect your own care. We offer ’10 ways to’ care for yourself as a parent:
- Learn to recognise your levels of stress. Take time each day to reflect on how you are feeling.
- Try to identify things that went well each day, no matter how small they are.
- Try not to give all your energy to what is going wrong. Explore who can help you, what steps can you take.
- Make a list of the issues you need to resolve. Try to be less critical of yourself. Name the things you are good at, focus on these.
- Create time to think and plan – can children go on play dates to allow this happen for you?
- Talk with your children about what is going on and help them to form a plan with you. Hear what it is like for them.
- Don’t give up. Your children need you and no one can replace you. You need to believe that you are the right person to parent your children.
- Join a parenting group to get support from other parents and learn new skills and knowledge which will help you understand your children.
- Identify your needs. Where are the gaps? You will need to be creative in finding ways to meet these needs. By parenting yourself you will be able to parent your children.
- Seek professional support if you feel really low. Call theaskonefamily helpline to talk with someone. Talking can usually help you understand what is going wrong and what changes you can make. Seek support from your GP or contact your local social worker if you feel you need support around mental health, addiction or abuse.
Remember, there are people out there who can and want to support you to parent. Ask for the support if you can. It does not make you a poor parent if you need to get support from others. Nobody can parent on their own, being brave enough to ask for help and support is what makes you a great parent as you recognise that you and your children need help.
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.